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When I behold the violet past prime,
And sable curls all silvered o'er with white;
When lofty trees I see barren of leaves
Which erst from heat did canopy the herd,
And summer's green all girded up in sheaves,
Borne on the bier, with white and bristly beard;
Then of thy beauty do I question make-
That thou among the wastes of time must go !”

There is a tenderness of feeling in the following sonnet, that must touch the coldest reader.

“That time of year thou may'st in me behold

When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang,
Upon those boughs that shake against the cold
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou seest the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death's second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou seest the glowing of such fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed whereon it doth expire,
Consumed with that which it was nourished by.
This thou perceiv’st, which makes thy love more strong,

To love that well, which thou must leave e'er long.” There is much grace and ingenuity in the following apology for his long silence. The line in Italics is truly exquisite.

“ My love is strengthened, though more weak in seeming,

I love not less, though less the show appear:
That love is merchandized, whose rich esteeming
The owner's tongue doth publish every where.
Our love was new, and then but in its spring,
When I was wont to greet it with my lays ;
As Philomel in summer's front doth sing,
And stops his pipe in growth of riper days.
Not that the summer is less pleasant now
Than when her mournful hymns did hush the night,
But that wild music burthens every bough,
And sweets grown common lose their dear delight.
Therefore, like her, I sometimes hold my tongue,
Because I would not dull you with my song.”

The imagery and the harmony of the first two lines of the sunnet to Time are almost perfect.


“Oh! carve not with thine hours my love's fair brow,

Nor draw no lines there with thine antique pen.” The pathos and melody of the ensuing sonnet will be immediately acknowledged by every reader of taste and sensibility.

“No longer mourn for me when I am dead,

Then you shall bear the sullen surly bell
Give warning to the world that I am fled
From this vile world, with vilest worms to dwell ;
Nay if you read this line, remember not
The hand that writ it; for I love you so,
That I in your sweet thoughts would be forgot,
If thinking on me then should make you woe.
() if (I say, you


this verse,
When I perhaps compounded am with clay,
Do not so much as my poor name rehearse;
But let your love e'en with my life decay:
Lest the wise world should look into your moan,

Avd mock you with me after I am gone." The next brief extract, in which the poet expresses his willingness to bear all the blame of his forced separation from his friend, is equally touching. There is great force in the line in Italics.

Knowing thy will,
I will acquaintance strangle, and look strange ;
Be absent from thy walks; and on my tongue
Thy sweet beloved name no more shall dwell,
Lest I (too much profane) should do it wrong,

And haply of our old acquaintance tell." There is a freshness and beauty as of vernal breezes and blue skies in the first half of the following sonnet.

“ From you have I been absent in the spring,

When proud-pied April, dressed in all his trim,
Hath put a spirit of youth in every thing
That heavy Saturn laughed and leaped with him.

Yet nor the lays of bird, nor the sweet smell
Of different flowers in odour and in hue,
Could make me any summer's story tell,
Or from their proud lap pluck thein where they grew :
Nor did I wonder at the lilies white,
Nor praise the deep vermilion in the rose :
They were but sweet, sweet figures of delight,
Drawn after you, you pattern of all those ;
Yet seemed it winter still, and, you away,
As with your shadow I with these did play.”

The following is a fine burst of poetry, and is characterized by that easy force of style, and exuberance of fancy, and that almost miraculous felicity of diction which seem peculiar to this mighty genius. His descriptions of morning come upon us like the dawn itself.

“Full many a glorious morning have I seen

Flatter the mountain tops with sovereign eye,
Kissing with golden face the meadows green,
Gilding pale streams with heavenly alchemy."

But instead of particularising in this way the various gems in these sonnets, I will now heap a few more together, and let the reader make his own comments on their beauty.

“ Like as the waves make to the pebbled shore,

So do our minutes hasten to their end.”

“ Great princes' favorites their fair leaves spread

But as the marigold at the sun's eye:
And in themselves their pride lies buried,
For at a frown they in their glory die.”

“ So flatter I the swart-complerioned night."

" Thy glass will show thee how thy beauties wear,

Thy dial how thy precious minutes waste :
The vacant leaves thy mind's imprint will bear,
And of this book this learning may'st thou taste,
The wrinkles which thy glass will truly show,
Of mouthéd graves will give thee memory ;

Thou by thy dial's shady stealth may'st know
Time's thierish progress to eternity.

« Three winters cold
Have from the forests shook three summers' pride ;
Three beauteous springs to yellow autumn turned ;
In process of the seasons have I seen,
Three April perfumes in three hot Junes burned,
Since first I saw you.”—

And truly not the morning sun of heaven

Better becomes the grey cheeks of the East,
Nor that full star that ushers in the even
Doth half that glory to the sober west,
As those two mourning eyes become thy face."

O call not me to justify the wrong,

That thy unkindness lays upon my heart;
Wound me not with thine eye, but with thy tongue."

“ Ah! do not when my heart hath 'scaped this sorrow

Come in the rearward of a conquered woe.”

Did not the heavenly rhetoric of thine eye,

'Gainst which the world can ne'er hold argument,” &c.

Those persons to whom I may have the good fortune to introduce Shakespeare as a sonnet-writer, will feel no little surprise at the extreme elegance and accuracy of his verse. There is an occasional smartness, terseness and antithesis in many of his poems, that people are apt to consider peculiar to the moderns. There is a balanced harmony, a point and opposition, in the following couplets, that have not been excelled by Pope or Darwin. And yet they were written upwards of two centuries ago !

“ The worth of that, is that which it contains,

And that is this, and this with thee remains.

I am to wait, though waiting so, be hell;
Not blame your pleasure, be it ill or well.

For sweetest things turn sourest by their deeds;
Lilies that fester, smell far worse than weeds.

For we, that now behold these present days,
Have eyes to wonder, but lack tongues to praise.

But thence I learn, and find the lesson true,
Drugs poison him, that so feel sick of you.

Him have I lost; thou hast both him and me;
He plays the whole, and yet I am not free.

For I have sworn thee fair; more perjured I,
To swear, against the truth, so foul a lie.

Come there for cure, and this by that I prove
Love's fire heats water, water cools not love.

Blessed are you, whose worthiness gives scope
Being had, to triumph, being lacked, to hope.”

After these specimens, to which I could add a thousand others, Johnson's talk about the rude state of English versification before the time of Waller and Pope is worse than foolish. It was disgraceful in a writer who set himself up as the historian of poetry and poets, to pass over the age of Shakespeare in the way he has done.

I have as yet confined myself to a consideration of their poetical merit, but though I do not propose to enter fully into the question at present, I cannot help subjoining a few passages to support Schlegel's position, that much of the poet's personal history and private feelings is revealed in these condemned and neglected sonnets.

The following lines contain an affecting allusion to his profession as an actor, an acknowledgment of his follies, which he no doubt rightly attributes to the influence of his unfortunate circumstances, and an intimation of profound repentance. Pope has observed that “ Shakespeare was obliged to please the lowest

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